Energy Access Is Critical to Economic Growth

Published onFebruary 7, 2018

Energy has long been recognized as essential for humanity to develop and thrive. Despite recent progress, some 1.1 billion people globally still lack access to electricity, and 2.8 billion people lack access to clean cooking facilities, according to the International Energy Agency’s Energy Access Outlook. These severe energy deficits make it difficult or impossible for many countries to achieve a range of development objectives.

A lack of access to clean cooking facilities means that in many countries women spend an average of 1.4 hours a day collecting fuelwood and several hours cooking over inefficient stoves, limiting opportunities to pursue employment or develop entrepreneurial activity to contribute to household income. There is also a significant toll on health. In countries that rely heavily on solid biomass and coal for cooking, household air pollution is responsible for 2.8 million premature deaths every year, and a lack of electricity in general can limit the services offered by health facilities.

…in recent years, the way we think about energy and development has started to shift, and measurable progress is now being made on energy access. The increasing success rate can be attributed to the convergence of several key factors: political will, declining costs of renewables, the emergence of new business models, and a more integrated approach to energy access.